Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Replacing Background Colors in Cells.

Replacing Background Colors in Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 8, 2014)

Jozef is looking for a way to change background colors of specific cells in the worksheet he created. For example, he would like to find all red background cells and change them to blue, or find all yellow backgrounds and change them to blue. Jozef wonders if there is an easy way to do this.

It's fairly obvious that you can change the background colors of any cells manually, so there is no need to go into that option for making the changes. What you need is a way to make changes to all the cells at once. If you are using Excel 2002 or 2003 you can follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Expand the dialog box by clicking the Options button. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Click the Format button at the right side of the Find What box. Excel displays the Find Format dialog box.
  5. Make sure the Patterns tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Patterns tab of the Find Format dialog box.

  7. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify the background color you want to replace.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Click the Format button at the right side of the Replace With box. Excel displays the Replace Format dialog box.
  10. Make sure the Patterns tab is selected.
  11. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify the background color you used when changing the cells.
  12. Click OK.
  13. Click Replace All.

If you are using an older version of Excel, these steps won't work. Instead you'll need to use a macro to do the changes. The following is an example of one that should work. (You can also use this macro in later versions of Excel, as well.)

Sub ChangeColor()
    Dim rCell As Range
    If Selection.Cells.Count = 1 Then
        MsgBox "Select the range to be processed."
        Exit Sub
    End If
    For Each rCell In Selection
        If rCell.Interior.Color = RGB(255, 0, 0) Then  'red
            rCell.Interior.Color = RGB(0, 0, 255)      'blue
        End If
    Next rCell
End Sub

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9042) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Replacing Background Colors in Cells.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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